Funding from ArtPlace supports The Wing’s year-round cultural programming, which uses arts and culture as an economic driver for Seattle’s Chinatown-International District, the city’s lowest income neighborhood.

Attracting visitors to explore and patronize businesses in The Wing’s neighborhood as well as having community members actively contribute to their story are two of the Museum’s key priorities. Margaret Su, Development & Marketing Director, gives her thoughts about some of the ways The Wing has addressed these priorities.

ARTPLACE: What have been your most effective strategies for attracting the attention of people who matter?

SU: To begin with, having a clear idea who your target audience is one of the toughest parts. It’s easy to say “everyone matters” but difficult to come up with effective strategies when your target is too broad. For The Wing, our current target audience is our Hometown Strangers – local residents who have the interest and potential to explore and patronize the neighborhood and even engage in The Wing in a meaningful way that will help them connect with and build upon our community’s stories.

Three things that have worked:

1) Strengthening marketing and simplifying messaging – for this past Lunar New Year, we focused on negotiating a new partnership that would increase our marketing power rather than adding more events and program offerings. With the neighborhood partnership, we were able to reach a wider audience together than we had been alone in previous years. Additionally, the partnership forced us to simplify the message and “brand” so that there was one Lunar New Year message coming out of the neighborhood rather than conflicting “brands” and promotions as had occurred in past years. For potential visitors, this clarified the message about when and how to celebrate Lunar New Year in Seattle and helped result in the largest attendance of Lunar New Year celebrations in the neighborhood to date.

2) Offering affordable and actionable activities – during Lunar New Year festivities, the neighborhood promoted $2 bites in small family-run restaurants. Visitors could pick up a Food Walk map, collect stamps when they purchased bites at participating restaurants and then enter to win a prize if they collected at least four stamps.

This proved to be more effective than past street festival/night market approaches. Many restaurants had lines snaking out of the door and around the neighborhood, compared to past street festivals, where the streets were superficially full of people but neighborhood businesses actually had less customer sales than usual due to the congestion of the festival. In a neighborhood that can be intimidating or harder to navigate, the Food Walk activity gave visitors a clear, actionable and affordable way to explore the neighborhood while potentially even winning a raffle prize.

3) Identifying opportunities for broader engagement – for our current exhibition on food, we asked our supporters and local residents to submit and share food photos. Food plays a universal role, and we wanted to give potential visitors a way to connect their stories with the Asian Pacific American community legacies, regardless of whether they themselves are Asian Pacific American.

We partnered with local media outlet Seattle Weekly and their widely-followed food blog to request submissions of food photos from their readers. This strategy gave the public a way to contribute to the artistic product and enticed them to follow with a personal experience through visiting the exhibition. One person who submitted a food photo wrote, “I’m so honored to be part of your exhibition. This is beyond exciting… I’ll definitely visit your museum soon. Thank you so much again…”

Photo by Nadine Aurora

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